Cinema studies doesn’t matter; or, I know what you did last semester
I want to lower the tone of academic discussion in this chapter, to engage in a shameless polemic. My target is currents within cinema studies as practiced in the United States and the United Kingdom. I am not commenting on other countries. Nor am I suggesting that cinema studies in these two places is a closed shop in which there is no room for dissent or difference. (The Department where I teach, for example, did not employ me because of my standing within conventional cinema studies as parlayed in business-as-usual journals and talkfests, but out of a desire to include cultural studies in its work.)
Let’s begin with three investigations. First, an anecdote about a content analysis of tobacco and alcohol use associated with heroic characters in feature-length animation ﬁlms released between 1937 and 1997. The study was published by the American Medical Association (AMA) in March 1999 (Goldstein, Sobel, and Newman). It received major public attention via a press conference, AMA endorsement, formal replies from Disney, massive TV and newspaper coverage, and so on. Such a paper references some longstanding English-language concerns of cinema studies. These concerns should have made cinema studies part of the AMA’s discourse and the media discourse on the report, as well as exciting the attention of cinema studies mavens. But how many cinema studies professors or graduate students read it? How many were asked to comment on it in the media?